Nintendo is certainly no slouch when it comes to platformers. Mario, Kirby and DK all provide superlative experiences, but there's still plenty of room for newcomers. Rynn's Adventure: Trouble in The Enchanted Forest has the colour and whimsy to fit in with a top class of platformers at first glance, but could stand to be a bit more steady on its paws.
A bit of a Disney vibe runs beneath the surface of Rynn's Adventure, with a storybook-style intro explaining how the young fox must set out to save her parents and their realm from a reptilian wizard. Loading screens of stages display text that furthers the tale somewhat, outlining the background of each location.
The universe being woven feels charming, but the artistic production unfortunately doesn't seem up to snuff to present things at their best. The look is functionable in general, but elements can feel inconsistent. Some backgrounds and drawings can come across quite beautifully, while others feel like basic creations in Flash. The animation can also feel lacking in fluidity and personality at times as well. Looks are far from everything, of course, but the property feels deserving of more solid production values.
The game has eight levels at its start with more lying in wait beyond. Players can freely choose among these opening levels and will receive a power-up after defeating the boss of each. This instinctively draws similarities to Mega Man, but doesn't really have the same "gotta go here to get this to beat that" feel. The powers, which all operate on the same mana meter, have a more holistic sense of helping Rynn through the entirety of the game, which is freeing; it doesn't seem like there's a "best route" to get through the stages. The powers also come with their own silly outfits such as pirate or ninja, so that's a bonus.
The sense of gaining help and power as one goes through the game is a relief, as starting out in Rynn's Adventure can be a frustrating experience. First, the controls can take some getting used to. They are not terrible, and most elements can be navigated confidently with them. There are, however, some aspects that don't feel quite right. Movement overall feels a little slower than it should be, and occasionally Rynn will feel like she's catching on the corner of an upper ledge while jumping up to it. Wall jumping, which features significantly in the level design, also feels more complicated than needed. Instead of instantly jumping off a wall, the jump button must be pressed to latch onto the surface, then jump can be pressed again to leap to the opposite wall. It works, but it really throws off the rhythm one comes to associate with that move while not seeming to add any sort of benefit.
Getting acquainted with jumping and walls will be important, as the stages have many vertical elements. Pits and damaging spikes are often lying beneath your fox, and she's not the flying type. There are limited lives to complete each stage, and thankfully falling down a pit will take a chunk of health meter away instead of being an outright kill, but falling can still be rather frustrating. Sometimes the layout makes you uncertain whether solid ground is waiting beneath you, and there are spots where falling will force you to redo a chunk of the stage.
Attacking also feels like an odd duck at first. Rynn can beat foes effectively with both a Sonic-like spin jump and a downward dive, but both require being in the air to trigger. There are no standing attacks to start out with, although added powers from defeating stages supplement this. Get used to jump attacking quickly.
While the level design could be tighter in some regards, it does provide plenty of checkpoints and aesthetic variation. Some gimmicks are also thrown in such as finding plants to light up areas of a cave and even a bit of simple downhill skiing ("Can't let you luge that, SkiFox!"). Each stage also contains a number of collectible gems and three keys. Getting all three keys will unlock a bonus in each level, while reaching certain numbers of gems throughout the game provides goodies as well. This is stuff such as life and mana upgrades, adding to that sense of getting a boost through the course of play.
The boss battles are not about outright attack as they are figuring out how to attack in the first place. This makes the fights a mixed bag, with some feeling clever and fun and others tedious tests of endurance. Once again, this isn't about finding the ideal weapon like Mega Man as much as figuring out a strategy. Pretty much any boss can feasibly be taken out first if you know how to do so.
The sound department also lies within the middle of the road. The music is low-key and almost MIDI-like, largely pushed to the background. It doesn't get on the nerves, however. The sound effects, especially from enemies, might be a different story for some. Many enemies love making a canned noise as they appear or spot Rynn, with no variations.
Rynn's Adventure, whether intentionally or not, hearkens back to the platformers of the '90s PC era. It's quirky, with collectibles aplenty, yet suffers from flaws inherent in sketchier old level designs. Players can expect to have a slow start before gaining any traction, but the game has the potential to grow more enjoyable as the momentum builds. It is difficult to recommend this game against a stable of outright fantastic platformers already available on the Wii U, at various price points on the eShop, but patient players looking for something new might find a satisfying game beneath the lack of polish.